In a little over a month, I will head back out to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for the second residency of the Doctor of Ministry program where I am studying “Ministry to Emerging Generations.” Recently, we have been studying God and culture and it has been enlightening!
I have always been aware of the powerful influence of culture but I never realized the extent of our culture’s power in shaping our worldviews. Leslie Newbigin, in his book “Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture” opened my eyes to a worldview that many Christians embrace without question–the separation of the public and private faith of Christians. This isn’t about the separation of church and state; this is about the separation of a “private” faith from our public lives.
For the most part, our American culture is OK with those who have faith in Jesus as long as that faith doesn’t stray from our private lives. In this worldview, it is OK for God to be acknowledged behind closed doors, but once we bring Jesus into our public lives, we cross the line of what is acceptable and we are seen as violating the freedom and rights of others. As a result, many of us shrink back in fear and silence and then desperately fight to restrain God to our private lives. The problem is that God will not be restrained.
In this light, it becomes evident that a private faith is a deficient faith. Our faith cannot be limited to our private worlds. It must extend to our public lives if it is to be true faith. In fact, this faith must be extended to the whole of human history because the same Lord of our lives is the King over human history. It is possible for us to live, and speak, publicly as Christians but who also honor the freedom of religion that America grants its’ people. If the youth of today are going to lead the church, this worldview embracing the division of the public and the private must be cast aside.